If only there were no such thing as special teams, this game would have been close and entertaining. Alas, absent that EA Sports version of the world, the New York Islanders' penalty kill undid their mostly good even strength play to let the Columbus Blue Jackets waltz to a 4-0 victory.
The Blue Jackets logged eight shots and three goals on their first four power play opportunities, and it easily could've been worse. The Islanders' lone power play (before a late consolation call in garbage time), split over the first intermission, yielded just two shots and little pressure.
He stopped 31 shots, but Sergei Bobrovsky's ninth NHL shutout had to be one of his easiest. As Columbus built a lead, the Isles continued to push through two periods -- but that rarely resulted in very dangerous shots or rebound chances.
Random Things about Things that Happened
- Even when the Isles PK hasn't been bleeding goals lately, it's been noticeable how much the injuries have disrupted things. Everyone they try at forward seems to not be on the same page with Frans Nielsen. So take away Michael Grabner and now take away Calvin de Haan too, and the PK had no answer for the Columbus power play until it no longer mattered.
- The first period was actually even by the run of play, alarming to Columbus if their power play hadn't clicked. The Islanders outshot them 11-7 at even strength. But two penalties led two successful Blue Jackets power plays, where Columbus ran circles around the Isles before converting.
- That's how Columbus entered the first intermission in control with a 2-0 lead. Boone Jenner found a loose puck lying behind Anders Nilsson after a screen shot; Jack Johnson simply blasted a one-timer to the top stick-side corner for the second goal.
- It was the Ryan Strome line generating most of the Isles chances, with frequent help from Thomas Hickey and Matt Carkner, plus a dash of Matt Donovan and Travis Hamonic on separate pairings.
- Still, the best chance was when Frans Nielsen simply blazed around the Columbus D for a sharp-angle chance on Sergei Bobrovsky, and Anders Lee arrived for the rebound but couldn't lift it high enough.
- Speaking of Lee, he flattened Johnson as Johnson tried to stand him up on a dump-in. That was amusing. Johnson responded later on the same shift by Phaneufing himself out of position to try to take out Nielsen.
- The second period began much the same way: After a poor Isles power play, they pressed Columbus at even strength and had the only shots on goal in the first half of the period. But Columbus struck first, a very well executed 3-on-2 putting Scott Mayfield on his first official NHL highlight reel, as he was the second defenseman on the play while Carkner took one out to reduce it to a 2-on-1.
- The Isles weren't really going to get any breaks from the refs on this night, and after a few more missed calls the Isles basically lost it. With 90 seconds left, Carkner and Matt Martin each got involved in roughing nonsense, leaving the Isles short again. The Blue Jackets' surgical power play went to work quickly and again exposed the Isles' hapless PK. This time it was Ryan Murray scoring to make it 4-0, his fourth of the year.
- Granted, the Islanders lineup is filled with anonymous characters, but every time I checked in on the Columbus broadcast they were misidentifying guys left and right. I get calling Mike Halmo Casey Cizikas, I guess. But Thomas Hickey shouldn't be hard to ID. And Matt Carkner is not the son of former NHLer Terry Carkner, as far as I know. (To be fair, they are apparently distant cousins.)
Carkner Makes a Ruckus
With the score 4-0 at the second intermission and the Isles' best efforts all going for naught, it was shaping up to be a nasty or stupid third period. Nothing too crazy happened until Carkner got in a fight with Matt Calvert (way too many Matts in this game), which mercifully for Calvert, ended quickly.
In fact, it ended so quickly that it was ruled a double-minor roughing for Carkner and a single-minor "getting roughed" for Calvert.
Finally, Jared Boll took exception to that mismatch and drew Carkner into another (properly penalized) fight with nine minutes left. Carkner won the fight, but Boll made his point, which was something like, "Don't fight that guy who's good at hockey; fight me, because that's all I'm here for."
The officials then gave Carkner a complementary end-his-night 10-minute misconduct for participating in too many Old-Time Hockey things. I swear they have Carkner for nights like this, when it's kind of out of hand but they need a rep from the Ministry of Maintaining Pride/Hockey Cliches.
Scott Mayfield's First NHL Game
Officially, Scott Mayfield logged 17:05 in his first NHL game, was credited with four hits and two shots on goal, and saw 1:42 of PK time. He looked green but hardly in over his head -- but as we've seen with most debuts, the first game means little either way, as the debuting player merely gets his feet wet.
He paired early with Matt Donovan, though he was on with Carkner for the lone EV goal against. He was also on for the final Columbus goal, but that power play converted so quickly there was little time to take it in. Assuming de Haan's injury keeps him out a little while, we should see more of Mayfield before the season is put to rest.
Standings/Draft Seed Watch
For the "I am very angry and must throw fits when my team wins" set, the regulation loss leaves the Islanders in 27th place, tied with Calgary but with the Flames holding the regulation/OT win tiebreaker.
Columbus, meanwhile, continues to put pressure on the Flyers and solidify its own playoff bid in its first season in the New Patrick Divisio
On that note, the Isles next play on Tuesday against the Senators, their final home game of the season.